It is November and still surprisingly warm, though we get cold blasts here and there. It was entirely warm enough to work outside this weekend, which is exactly what we did. Outdoor tasks become a bit of a race at this time of year.
- protecting the trunks of the two willow trees that we planted earlier this year from a bark-defacing deer;
- spreading a layer of biochar (our recently burned brush and branches) over the largest of our garden bends;
- burning another round of brush and a bit more tree pruning;
- continuing with the expansion of our largest vegetable bed (manual digging is always first on this clay – we can’t use the tiller until that top layer has been broken through!)
- completing the roof and associated odds and ends on our tree house (photos coming soon);
- planting two dwarf lilac trees** (a steal at $10 each at our local nursery) and a smattering of tulip bulbs around their bases
- lots of cooking on the woodstove (again, an update coming shortly)
** Note: this activity invovled walking a total of 1km out to one of our fields to an old compost heap for soil and twice up a very steep hill pushing the wheelbarrow as the mini tractor-trailer was in use by the menfolk to carry supplies to the treehouse. I think I should get loads of extra points for this activity, just for the record. My thirteen-year old, however, also gets bonus points for swimming for two straight hours this evening following the day’s work; he’s studying for his Bronze Medallion and couldn’t miss his lesson.
Tonight’s reward was the final Harry Potter movie, which we missed seeing in the cinema, and a yummy fish ‘pie’ in puff pastry that I cooked up. A good weekend.
This isn’t really part 4 in this series, but a quick update until I have the time to prepare a full report on the next phase building our treefort out of mostly recycled materials. The weather is getting much colder, but we really pushed things along recently. Here is a quick snapshot of the treehouse as of last weekend.
Saturday dawned cold and dreary. We had to pull on jackets and scarves before heading out to collect a pile of scrap metal from a junk heap in the far reaches of our property. Once that was delivered, we headed down to the treefort (where the scrap metal will be used as siding).
Fitting corner pieces to the upper walls was the order of the day.
With the biting wind, it was a good day to pretend to be a little furry creature in a dry corner of the treefort.
A bit of measuring at the rear of the treefort was needed before we could head back up to the house.
We had to check a few angles too.
Back up at the house it was time for a hot, late lunch/early supper.
My take on shakshouka, full of tomatoes, parsley and peppers from our garden, as well as a local onion – an end of summer meal on a day that felt more like late fall.
Even though the house was perfectly toasty, the day demanded the first fire of the season in the woodstove.
We rewarded ourselves with a screening of the WWII film Desert Rats and then took a peek at the incredible sunset (the funny pink rectilinear shape reminds me that I still haven’t written anything directly about our solar panels – they are here, but not yet connected).
Sunday wasn’t much fairer, but I started the day by canning a delicious batch of Green Tomato and Apple Chutney (we’ve got lots of unripe tomatoes too!), my first effort at this kind of preserving. My heart felt good as I heard every jar lid make its “ping!” sound one after the other.
We fit in some more work on the treefort and my husband made good progress on his latest project: a burn barrel created to work like a wood gasifier (a super efficient way to burn wood and its gases, reducing smoke and harmful gases). Like the treefort, this is another nearly 100% recycled project. The outer barrel is a repurposed barrel from an ancient potato planter that we inherited when we bought our land. The smaller inner barrel was traded for the hydraulics on the same potato planter with a neighbour. Our youngest was thrilled to be asked to climb inside to help with fastening the two barrels together at the base.
There is still chard and kale producing in the front bed, but the rear garden is done for now, so garden transition is also underway. But that’s another post.
In the waning light of Sunday evening we finally got the steps (built by my husband with help from our older son last week) up. Still quite a bit to do, but it’s really feeling very solid and useable now.
When I last wrote about the treehouse we are building with the boys out of a mix of reclaimed, recycled and new materials, here is where we stood in terms of outstanding tasks:
Still to do:
- install the roof
- install walls
- “skin” the treehouse walls in scrap metal (the boys are thrilled that the finished treefort will look more like a bunker and it will mean that we don’t have to stain or paint the walls)
- finish installing mesh screen on several window openings
- build and install a door
- find and install a slide on the “exit” side of the entrance porch
- build and install rope-handled stairs on the “entrance” side of the entrance porch
- NEWLY ADDED: install solar powered fence-post light to top of entryway post
We’re planning to make a lot more progress this weekend, but here is how things looked recently (does not reflect above work):
At the framing stage, including windows.